Sunday, April 27, 2008

Free State Trail Marathon 4/26/2008 Clinton State Park

I woke up at 4:30 am on Saturday April 26th, just a half an hour before the alarm was to go off, amazingly I had slept like a log. I had expected to be a ball of jitters the night before my first marathon, instead I slept soundly and didn't even get up for my customary middle of the night pee! Thank you Sleepy-Time tea! I got up, let out the dog and made myself a big fruit smoothie with blackberries, blueberries, strawberries & pineapple about that time the rest of the house started stirring, my mom, my dad (who was running also), their dog & my husband. I had packed my bag and laid out my clothes the night before, but I was still having some last minute indecision jitters about what to wear and which pack I was going to use. My dad suggested going as lightweight as possible since there was plenty of aid stations, but I really like how comfortable my Nathan pack is, so even though it would be heavier I decided to go with it.. I also decided to stick with a skirt and shirt that I had worn on long runs, so I knew they wouldn't rub anywhere bad. My North Face shoes & favorite girly skull dirty girl gaiters rounded things out, I was ready to run!

For my first marathon I had decided to skip the traditional big city road marathon with thousands of runners & spectators for a local, lo-key, but amazing, fun trail marathon that was also concurrently hosting a 40 miler and 100K. This was a Bad Ben/Trail Nerds event which means great organization, great aid stations, dead on course markings, a fun challenging course, laid back atmosphere and most importantly a great time. From packet pick up on Friday at Sunflower Outdoor (what an fabulous store!) to the party like atmosphere at the finish, it was an all around perfect choice.

Amazingly, even with 4 people to get out the door, we left at 6:15 on the nose, I was a little concerned we would run into some early morning Nascar traffic, but we sailed right past the Speedway with no slow-downs in sight. We made it to Clinton State Park in time to watch the 40m & 100K racers start, they started an hour before us to make sure the course was good and muddy! It was a chilly morning so we kept warm in the car for about a half an hour until I had to start my "go to the bathroom every 5 minutes 'cause I'm so nervous" routine. On my out of the porta potty the 2nd time, I heard someone say "Strawberry Hill Runner?", it was Trail Zombie, (check out his blog, it's heartfelt& funny) and his posse of friends, who were running the marathon and then jumping in the car to drive to Oklahoma and running a marathon there! It really helped calm my nerves to just stand around and chat.. I almost forgot what I was doing!

Before too long it was time for some pre-race instructions from Ben, one last kiss from the husband, hug from the mom and we were off. We were doing a 3 mile loop that would bring us back through the start/finish area before heading on single track into the woods. I started out near the back and Dad was on my butt yelling at me to slow down and not get too eager. I settled into a nice slow jog and chatted with people around me.. I ended up running with a really nice guy named Jason from Tennessee, who, with his friends, rides motorcycles around the country to races. What fun! There was 2 stream crossings in the first 3 miles.. the first one was little and could easily be crossed on rocks and a few leaps, but the second was was much deeper and there was no way around it! Since my feet were already wet from the dew and I knew how muddy the main trail was going be, I jumped in with a hoot & a holler. Behind me I heard some curses and screams.. I may have splashed some people.
After we passed through the start/finish area again we headed onto a section of trail that I hadn't run before, and man was it gorgeous! At one point when we came upon an amazing view of Clinton Lake, 3 of us just stopped for a moment and went Whoa! I was feeling great and had a perfect rhythm going so I didn't worry about how slow or fast I was going, I figured as long as it was comfortable I was good. I was mostly running by myself at this point.. picking people off one by one. Before the start of the race I has been having a conversation with my friend Sophia about some new chub-rub lube she had discovered that came in a small tube, perfect for her pockets, well as I ran down a hill I spied what I thought was a piece of trash but turned out to be the very same lube Sophia has shown me. I picked it up figuring it was hers.
As I got onto the "red" trail portion which runs right along the shore of Clinton Lake and is absolutely breath-taking and looks like nothing in Kansas, I heard a cell phone ring and, as is typical, it was Sophia yakkin' away. She's been harassed about talking on her phone on the trails before. I yelled at her and then caught up and she was telling me how she lost her lube and was having serious chafing problems... I was more than happy to whip out her lost lube and save her day. Incidentally she was running the marathon after having just run the Boston marathon on Monday... she rocks! The red trail portion is very rocky and usually I end up walking a bunch of it, but today I was feeling very mountain goatish and was able to keep moving very quickly through it. Shortly after that I came up on the first manned aid station and spent a minute taking off my long sleeve shirt, and grabbing a few orange wedges to see me on my way. The "blue" section of trail was pretty muddy (it always is!) so it was a bit more difficult to settle into a good rhythm and I was concentrating pretty hard to not fall but I was still picking the occasional runner off.
The whole race for me was spent in awe of how gorgeous nature is and just how lucky I was to be able to spend a whole morning running through the sun dappled trees, splashing through cool stream crossings and chatting to some of the nicest people on earth.
You break out of the trees at one bit and run along the road and this is where my mom, husband and my friend Twitt were hanging out taking pictures and cheering people on. They picked a great spot because the runners pass that spot both inbound and outbound so I got the chance to see them twice. It gave me such a lift to hear their cheers and see their faces and since I didn't know Twitt was going to be there it was a great surprise. They also thought they would be funny and warn me of the big mud puddle coming up! I felt like I was running on sunshine for quite awhile after seeing them. I wasn't sure exactly where I was at mileage wise because I had forgotten to start my garmin until a few minutes into the race and I knew that it always measured short when I ran the trails anyway.
I came up on the 2nd manned aid station still feeling great, grabbed some watermelon chunks (which happen to be my favorite fruit) got my water refilled, wetted my bandanna and headed on my way. I wanted to spend as little time as possible stopped, as long as I was still feeling good, I wanted to be moving forward. I passed my cheering section again about a mile from the aid station and my mom handed me a banana, at that point my garmin was saying it was 16.5 miles. Since this was my first marathon I was unsure just how to pace myself for the last 10 miles, I didn't want to blow up and have to drag myself in. I slowed down a bit and just tried to keep drinking lots. When my garmin said 20 miles I popped in my iPod since no one was around me, and my right knee was beginning to hurt quite a bit ( I had fallen on it pretty bad a month or so ago). At 21 miles, I had 3 people right in front of me, an English couple I had been playing leap frog with for many, many miles and another woman. Thinking I still had 5 miles to go, I didn't attempt to catch them and I started to do some run/walk patterns since I was starting to tire out. A mile and 1/2 later I round a corner and holy crap there's the finish line!!
Much to my surprise my friends Troy, Venus & their son came out to watch me finish too.. so I felt like a total rock star with my big cheering section as I ran for my medal. Bad Ben gave me a hug and my medal. Official time was 4:43:25, good enough for 30th place overall and 8th female overall!!
I went over to dispense some sweaty, salty, stinky love to my wonderful friends and family. I put up with my personal paparazzi snapping tons of pictures and then my mom told me that my dad was only like 20 minutes behind me so I decided to go back out and run in with him. So I handed off my medal and ran back down the trail.
As I headed back down the trail it was great to be able to tell people they were almost done.. just around the corner.. everyone got a big smile and picked up the pace. I found my dad about a mile and a half back, just as he got a big 'ole leg cramp, so we walked it off and chatted and ran in. I enjoyed being able to finish the last bit with him.

I wish I would have known how much longer I had to go... Next year it would be great to see a sign that said "3 miles to the Start/Finish" Since there are multiple races being run it's not practical to have mileage markers all over the course but just one near the end would have been so great! My ending garmin mileage was only 22.6 miles.. I could have finished a lot faster.
I kept waiting for "the wall", never found it.. yeah there was a point when my legs got a bit tired, but (please no one hurt me) it didn't really seem that hard. I guess I should have run faster then, but learning how to pace myself properly and knowing where I am on the course would help with that. I definitely have a lot to learn.
Trail runners are wonderful people, everyone was so encouraging and helpful and downright happy! I love it!! I don't know if I could have done it without the wonderful knowledge and encouragement I got from Bad Ben and all the fabulous Trail Nerds I ran with over the weeks. Thanks a million and a half!
I also have wonderful friends who are willing to drive an hour+ and pay 4.50 to watch me run.. that's true friendship!!
I am pleased with how I did eating and drinking wise... 3 orange wedges, 2 watermelon slices, about 10 medjool dates, and a banana did me great. I drank tons of water and took an S-cap once an hour.
Next day I felt great too, I had to ice my knee a couple of times but other than that not a bit of soreness. Trails are so much more forgiving then roads.

My husband is a wonderful guy who has been uber-supportive and keeps getting up at stupid hours of the morning to watch me run into the woods and then he sits around and waits to watch me run out of the woods, and doesn't complain!

Just a few pictures from this weekend until I can write up a full report!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Finished my first trail marathon in 4:41:40 unoffically. It was a few minutes into the race when I realized I forgot to start my garmin. Thanks so much for all the support and well wishes from both my real life friends and my internet friends, it really helps to know that there are people across the world sending you good thoughts & vibes!! Full report coming soon!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My lovely friend Sophia is a news anchor and when she got done kickin' the Boston Marathon's ass on Monday she filed this story.

Which made me officially nervous, excited and scared all at the same time... somehow when she said "My friend Coleen's first marathon is on Saturday" it made it really flippin' real. I want to laugh and cry all at the same time but I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the race or my PMS. My parents get here tonight, and I'm sure my Dad will help calm me down.. he says he never gets nervous anymore before a race. I guess when you've been doing it for 30+ years, you know what to expect.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Amazon is recommending books for me based on my browsing history.. and the book they just recommended is "Run Less Run Faster". Why the hell would you want to run less???? I love running, I want to run MORE!! Is this kinda like popping a pill to lose weight? Are there people out there that don't like running but do it anyway?? Why do it then?

Happy Earth Day!!

Do something nice for the earth today.. pick up trash, drive less, commit to using less resources this year.. every little bit helps. Over the past year I've been doing things like: picking up trash in my neighborhood, bringing my own bags to the grocery, switching out my light bulbs for the energy efficient ones, keeping my heating and A/C consumption down as much as I can, and I stopped buying bottled water altogether... those plastic bottles are a complete menace to our earth. I bought a Sigg bottle and I adore it! Check out your local farmers markets.. it's easier on the environment to buy locally, the food is fresher and tastier, and the money you spend is kept local. And besides there are some wonderful small local farmers out there that are fun to talk to and may even save the really good stuff special for you! At my local farmers market last summer I had a couple that knew how much I LOVE heirloom tomatoes and they would save me a huge bag of the best ones every week (AND they were dirt cheap). Nothings better than a lunch of fresh, sliced heirloom tomatoes that were picked less than 24 hours before! Think Global, Act Local!

The pictures are from my weekend in Bennett Spring, Mo. Great state park with some gorgeous trails. Most people who go there go for the fishing, so I had the trails mostly to myself. Saturday was a bit gloomy and chilly, but was a great run anyway, I just ran slow and took lots of pictures, except for the part where I got chased down the trail by an ill-tempered dachshund who was off leash. GRRR. I hate when people let their bad mannered dogs off leash... I have no problem with off leash dogs who have trail manners or owners who grab their dogs when they see someone coming... but this dog was going after my ankles as the owners were yelling "she won't bite". I love dogs, but he was seconds from getting a foot in his mouth when his owner grabbed him. Sunday was amazing sunny, warm weather and there was not a single car in the trailhead parking lot when I started and when I finished... it was a great feeling to have the whole trail system to myself! I was working on doing some meditating while running, but after I missed the trail a few times and had to backtrack, I decided that getting in a deep zen moment on unfamiliar trails probably wasn't the smartest thing. The trails were a great mixture of easy rollers, some single track, some wide open even grassy paths, an awesome old graveyard and a bunch of stream crossings. I would go back and run there again!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Holy Crow!

I've spent the morning watching the Boston Marathon on the internet... what a great finish for the women! I was on the edge of my seat and yelling my head off.. I didn't really care who won, I was just thrilled to see such an exciting close finish! Now I'm hanging out checking on Sophia's split times.. she's rockin' along, getting faster at each checkpoint. Guess I should stop procastinating and go clean my house... parents will be here on Thursday... my marathon on Saturday! Hope I'm ready!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


So I was at Target today picking up all sorts of random shit and a new running top and as the dude was ringing me up he remarked on how "it's almost running weather".... I laughed in his face and said "it never stops being running weather". On that note my parents in Colorado Springs got 4 inches of snow last night!

Open Window

Slept with the windows open last night! I love the sound of birds chirping in the morning and I always seem to sleep so much better with fresh air blowing into the room. Going away this weekend with a bunch of girlfriends to Bennett Springs, we rented a cabin and we're going to relax and they'll probably fish and I'll have lots of new trails to run. I'm really looking forward to it! Yahoo Spring!!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tour de downtown KC, MO

Due to crappy weather, the scheduled trail run out at Kill Creek Park had to be canceled (if it's too muddy they close the trails) so Ben led us on an urban run of downtown KC, MO. He took us up and down some alleys to show us some amazing graffiti. I'm going to have to go back with my camera and get some shots... I've been up and down those streets but never ducked down the alleys. I've certainly been missing out! It was a lot of fun, both Ben & Raul know a ton of KC history so it was a running historical tour. I would pay money to do tours like that in cities... I love old and interesting architecture. We looped all over downtown, to the City Market and up to the Westside. The coffee smells from the Folgers plant were so amazing, I may not drink coffee anymore, but damn it still smells enticing. I'm kicking myself for not bringing my camera... I really, really need a smaller lighter one to carry! Did a hair over 7 miles at a nice easy pace. It was in the 30's and WINDY and as we finished up, snowflakes started falling from the sky... nothing that would stick, but not a sight I wanted to see on April 12.
After the run we went to the Bluebird Bistro for breakfast... happy dance!! It was early enough that husband was able to join us... he had to eat really quick but I think he enjoyed himself anyway. It was nice to have him there..bringing 2 areas of my life together. In conversation, it came up that Raul had run Western States in 1980 too, which was the first year dad ran it and I was there "helping" crew. Crazy, small running world. It was always a joke growing up that I couldn't get away with anything 'cuz dad knew everyone in town...I grow up, move to another state and I still can't get away from connections.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

another midget picture

I'm going to see how many pictures I can accumulate of me looking like an absolute midget while waiting for a race to start. Here's number 2 for the year.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Brew to Brew day!

Got up bright and early this morning to be on the starting line of Brew to Brew at 6:30 am. Husband was wonderful enough to get up and take me to the Boulevard Brewery, which lucky for us is only a few minutes away. We milled around a bit and DH & I watched with amazement the hundreds of people drinking beer... now granted, free beer is a wonderful thing, but at 6 in the morning, before a race? I guess I'm just getting old! There was lots of merriment & picture taking going on, I guess the benefit of having a big relay team means lots of people to hoot & holler before hand.
Because of construction, we had to be bused over to Kemper arena where we actually started the race... it was pretty nonchalant... "umm, line up over there, does everybody know where they are going?" A resounding "NO!" from the crowd, and the guy laughs and says "you can't get lost... GO!" Off we went... it was pretty chilly at the get go, I was in a skirt, team Mud Babe tank top and arm warmers, but I knew I would warm up quick. We ran along a levee for awhile, which we had to jump up a wall to get to, it was gravel and flat as a pancake. I'm sorry to say it was also some damn ugly scenery... grey dirty river on one side and huge warehouses on the other side. I tried to talk to the people around me a bit, but no one seemed to want to chat and before I knew it we had hit the first transfer point which meant a whole new group of people to try and talk to, but they weren't having any part of it either. I was kinda sad.. I guess I've gotten too used to running with trail people who seem to always be friendly and talkative.

I brought along the iPod, so I just zoned out to my bad 80's pop & punk. I made sure to turn off the music and thank all the volunteers as I went by. I don't think many people were thanking them 'cause they all seemed pretty surprised. I was pretty much running by myself for good chunks of it, every time I got behind someone with a good stride they'd peel off at an exchange point. I was feeling pretty good and running about 9 minute miles and texting updates to Sophia and the husband so they knew when to expect me.
Honestly I can't say that I really enjoyed the "race", I'm looking for something else in my runs and this was not it. Too flat, too paved, too boring. I like the quietness of being in the woods, the terrain change, and the encouragement of the other trail runners. I think it's a great idea and I'm glad I did it, but I didn't get my customary "high" afterwards. Next year maybe I'll just donate money & volunteer... unless Sophia can talk me into it again.... but if I do it again, I want the leg that has the boat ride!
After my half was done, we drove to the Trail Nerds relay station which was the last one before the finish. I was supposed to help out, but all we really did was cheer for the runners as they went by and shot the shit with the other Trail Nerds that were there. Bad Ben does a great job of taking care of the runners and he put out a great spread for the solo people. It was great to see him greeting each solo runner and making sure they were doing OK. Kansas City really is lucky to have him around... and I count myself a lucky recipient of his knowledge and kindness. I would not be where I'm at with my running if not for him and his Trail Nerds. Thanks a billion Ben!!

After Sophia finished up her legs we headed into Lawrence and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Local Burger, a tasty local, organic restaurant. After that we had to head for home since husband had band practice for the other band that he plays bass for. I was kinda sad not to go have beers and hang out with everyone at the Free State brewery, but after I got home I realized how tired I was. I'm not used to having quite so much excitement in a weekend. I also had to tend to my blisters (grr!) and bruised wrist from my stupid Garmin. I'm not sure why but the bruise is a doozy, I ordered a velcro replacement strap for it and I'm hoping that will help take care of matters. It's bugged me before but never bruised like this. My right ankle is also killing me from what I'm assuming was the off camber-ness of the road. At one point in the race I heard a girl bitching about how much the gravel made her feet hurt and all I could think was how much the road made mine hurt!

Rock -n Roll

This was a darn busy weekend! It started with working on Friday night which I normally don't do, but sometimes schedules get screwed up. After I got off work I had to drive super quick to downtown KC, Mo to catch DH's band at the Crosstown Station. I had forgotten it was First Friday so I had to do some detouring around the crowds of people in the streets. Made it just a few minutes before they went on.... and they were so great, as usual. This band he has playing with him is so freakin' talented and they mesh so well together, it's amazing to watch and hear. It was a Donkey Show which means games and silly costumes. I participated in a hula hoop contest and lost to Maiden Hell a KC Roller Warrior babe, so at least I lost out to a superstar! We left around 12:30 since I had to get up and make it out to Lawrence by 7:15 am to run. Let me add that the Crosstown Station is a gorgeous venue, but charging $5 for draft Boulevard beer sucks ass and charging $1.50 for water sucks even more. I doubt I'll go back.

We ran the Sandrat Trails Saturday morning, Sophia, Bad Ben,Sarah & I. There are no bathrooms at the trail head so I had to pee in the bushes and ended up peeing on an earthworm... poor little guy. Seeing him was one more reminder that spring is here (kinda). These trails are just sandy, easy rollers.. no technical rocks or hills. Ben says it's like being on a roller coaster on your feet. It was a much faster run then usual... and I brought up the rear. I really have done no speed work at all so I'm not surprised to be hanging off the back. It was fun doing another trail system but I really prefer a more technical course.. give me something to have to concentrate on (even when I fall)! We did a quick 8. something miles and then went to Mirth for some breakfast. I love their fruit plate and they have no problem taking any non-vegan stuff off the salads.
After breakfast, I raced back to KC, showered and went to pick up our Brew to Brew packets at Gary Gribbles, then a quick trip to Whole Foods and then to work for a couple of hours since DH had to get to rehersal for a band he's sitting in on bass for. After work I went home, changed into some finery and went to the Screenland for the Pitch's Artopia, where DH was playing a short solo acoustic set. He was wonderful and I got to hang out with my friend Kaite and saw Travis & his wife Molly (Travis is the wonderful artist who did our Brew to Brew shirt design). After DH played we popped up to the Bluebird Bistro for a quick dinner and then home to get sleep.

Friday, April 4, 2008


I got tagged! Bad Ben tagged me to play a game called "six word memoir". Here are the rules:
1- Write your own six word memoir
2- Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want
3- Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4- Tag at least 5 more blogs with links
5- Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play

After much thought and head scratching I came up with:

Be here now and keep smiling.

II think this applies to both life and running. If we're always worried about the future or looking back to the past how can we enjoy today? And the keep smiling part should be obvious.. I try to be smiley.. it really does help in all aspects of life.

And as far as the tagging 5 people part... I don't even know if 5 people read my blog, so if by some chance you're reading this... consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tired, Sore and Beat Up

I ended March feeling very tired, sore and beat up. I think I over did the training a bit.. I have this problem with moderation.. always have and I assume always will. I was just shy of 200 miles for the month (which is both quite a bit and not very much at the same time) but my biggest month before March, I had only run 120 miles.. so it might have been too big of a jump for my body. It's hard to remember that I have to build up gradually, I want it all NOW! I took yesterday off and I'm taking today off too, and next week I'll start tapering. I would really like to do well at Free State (well, meaning finish in a respectable time) so it's time to let the body start recovering... after Brew to Brew of course. I'm hoping for half way decent weather on Sunday.. keep your fingers crossed!

Took a bunch of pictures from the run on Saturday, there was an adventure race going on at the same time, so there was quite a few people on the trails, and we got to play with the boats on the beach, and Sophia stopped for a bit of yoga on the trail.